Rabbis back driver's licenses for illegal
The poll, released by the bill's author, Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, found state voters generally oppose giving licenses to illegal immigrants but could be persuaded if safeguards are added to the bill.
Among 802 California voters surveyed in early May, 54 percent said they could support granting the licenses "under certain conditions."
However, those conditions remained unnamed in the poll question, and in follow-up questions naming specific conditions such as criminal background checks and a higher processing fee for illegal immigrants, support remained less than 50 percent.
Also, more than 60 percent said they agreed with Schwarzenegger's decision to ask the state Legislature to repeal the earlier law which granted licenses to illegal immigrants without background checks.
The poll was commissioned and paid for by a private, nonprofit advocacy group called PICO California and conducted by San Francisco-based firm David Binder Research. Cedillo's office said the senator's campaign funds would cover a small portion of the total cost, but the figure was not immediately available.
Meanwhile, in Tarzana a group of five rabbis from the Valley and one from Hollywood said they support giving licenses to illegal immigrants, but object to the governor's suggestion that such licenses have a mark which identifies the person as an illegal.
"It is inappropriate at best and deeply upsetting at worst," said Rabbi Dan Moscovitz of Temple Judea in Tarzana, reading a letter the rabbis sent to the governor last week.
"It will be used by some persons to treat the undocumented with scorn and ethnic discrimination."
Signers of the letter included Moscovitz, Rabbis Karen Bender and Donald Goor of Temple Judea, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs of Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills, Rabbi Jim Kaufman of Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village and Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood.
Moscovitz cited the Jewish experience in being singled out during the Holocaust and said that, had this bill been proposed 40 years ago, Jews would have become targets of such discrimination.
Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson said the governor is not committed to the idea of the identifying mark, but has looked at it as a possibility.
He does not see it as discriminatory, she said, noting that other countries including Mexico and Germany use various markings on identifications issued to foreigners.
"He's always said we need to focus on the public-safety component," Thompson said. "You're not going to be able to convince the people to support the concept of a driver's license unless you have the policy right."